University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Lucero v. City of New York PA-NY-0001
Docket / Court 14-cv-9533 ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Public Accomm./Contracting
Case Summary
On Dec 3, 2014, three women with relatives buried in a mass grave of more than one million deceased individuals on New York City’s Hart Island filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Represented by the New York Civil Liberties Union Foundation, the ... read more >
On Dec 3, 2014, three women with relatives buried in a mass grave of more than one million deceased individuals on New York City’s Hart Island filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Represented by the New York Civil Liberties Union Foundation, the plaintiffs asked the court for declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief, claiming violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendments and sections 3, 6, and 8 of Article I of the New York State Constitution. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that New York City’s policy barred people from visiting the graves of relatives buried on the island, only allowing them to visit a “gazebo” on the edge of Hart Island. The “gazebo” is out of sight of the graves and visitors were not permitted to leave sentimental items like flowers.

The case was assigned to District Judge Vernon S. Broderick. On September 28, 2015, the court granted class certification, for a class of individuals with familial or marital ties to the deceased individuals buried on Hart Island.

On February 21, 2016, the parties agreed to a settlement. The City of New York agreed to provide the plaintiff class with ferry transportation to and from Hart Island, and access to the gravesites of their family members, on at least one weekend day per month. Visitors to the gravesite will be allowed to leave certain sentimental items, like flowers, small stuffed animals, and photographs, at the grave site. The City of New York also agreed to pay attorneys’ fees. The court retained jurisdiction to enforce the terms of the settlement agreement until December 1, 2018.

Lauren Shepard - 06/01/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Free Exercise Clause
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Other
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) City of New York
Plaintiff Description Individuals with familial or marital ties to deceased individuals buried in a mass grave on Hart Island who were denied access to the gravesites by the City of New York.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
1:14-cv-9533 (S.D.N.Y.) 08/27/2015
PA-NY-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint 12/03/2014
PA-NY-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Stipulation and Order Regarding Certification of Class Action 07/23/2015 (S.D.N.Y.)
PA-NY-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Memorandum of Law in Support of Joint Motion to Approve Class-Action Settlement 08/27/2015
PA-NY-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation and Order of Settlement 02/19/2016
PA-NY-0001-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Broderick, Vernon Speede (S.D.N.Y.)
PA-NY-0001-0003 | PA-NY-0001-0004 | PA-NY-0001-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Dunn, Christopher (New York)
PA-NY-0001-0001 | PA-NY-0001-0002 | PA-NY-0001-0003 | PA-NY-0001-0004 | PA-NY-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Lively, Lauren Almquist (New York)
PA-NY-0001-9000
Pines, Jonathan (New York)
PA-NY-0001-9000
Tuffaha, Omar Hani (New York)
PA-NY-0001-0003 | PA-NY-0001-0004 | PA-NY-0001-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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